Had that dream again where the bloggers won and our church closed down.
12:35 AM - 28 Jul 2015
Justin Dean can certain tweet that he had that dream again where "the bloggers won" and a church closed down. But embedded in all of those few words are a host of assumptions that beg the question of just what "the bloggers" wanted, let alone that "the bloggers" won.
When I started blogging nearly ten years ago I was pretty happy to be a part of Mars Hill. There was that one guy who kept saying stuff in public that seemed a bit reckless but I believed in the community being able to be a positive influence in the region. This blog didn't start to become what was colloquially known as a watchblog until a few years later, and by dribs and drabs.
What I hoped could happen is that relationships could be mended, that the culture of not quite competent fiscal management and a sense of entitlement in the leadership set could be reformed. I was hoping that by sharing for the public record what was seen and heard about the history of Mars Hill that some practical reform and reconciliation could occur, if possible.
But not much of that, if any, has necessarily occurred. The bloggers didn't win. The bloggers failed and will probably continue to fail more often than succeed. Justin Dean is welcome to imagine that the bloggers won but if what the bloggers wanted was serious reform coming to Mars Hill then Mars Hill's dissolution isn't "winning", it's more failure.
It's remarkable that in a mere three years and a couple of months in Justin Dean's tenure handling communications at Mars Hill the company went from being one of the most well-known churches in the region to closing its doors after years of controversy. There may well have been nothing Dean could have said or done to have changed what happened.
But bloggers didn't "win". The bloggers failed. This is a point worth repeating because for those who might consider any kind of activity that speaks to people you have to consider that failure is always a possibility. Even if you're a prophet directly commissioned by God you have to be able to deal with the reality and even inevitability of failure.
Don't believe that? Well, if the calling of the greatest prophet in the Old Testament is any indicator, there may be tasks you take up on obedience to what you understand the Lord has providentially given you to do where failure is guaranteed up front. It was for Isaiah.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
I'd read enough of the prophets and what Jesus said about them to realize that if you are drawn to a prophetic role you have to go into it understanding that failure is a foregone conclusion. Failure won't excuse you from speaking up. Go back and meditate on Ezekiel 33 and tell me that failure is any excuse for not speaking up about what you have seen and heard.
Now don't start too quickly into "but Isaiah predicted the coming of Jesus". Isaiah being used by the Holy Spirit to write things down that were later interpreted for our benefit as things written in reference to Christ is not necessarily the same thing as saying that when Isaiah wrote that he knew what he was writing in the way we, who look back on how Christ fulfilled the writings in Isaiah, do now. Consider that in spite of all of the prophets and their prophecy, Israel and Judah still ended up in exile just like Deuteronomy warned they would.
I've been wondering lately if the reason so few speak with a prophetic voice in American Christianity is so few people are willing to speak if they don't have an assurance of successful results. They only want to say "I'm called to be a prophet" if it means called to be a success, preferably a success with a book deal like the other prophets, never mind that the prophetic books we have in the Bible were compiled during an exilic and post-exilic canonization process. Never mind what's actually in Isaiah 6. This is America, and even failure is just supposed to be a stepping stone to a newer and greater season of grace (i.e. success), not just plain old failure before a great disaster that sends God's people into miserable exile.
If you're going to embark on something resembling a prophetic activity you have to be willing to fail, fail miserably, and even be vilified for what you have attempted to undertake. You have to be willing to do it out of love for Christ and His people. Any motive less than that and you're basically just doing it for yourself.